Ye olde school cRPG's anew

While I vehemently disagree with the pen and paper RPG resurgence these days that focuses on using antiquated and outdated rule sets from the 1970’s as if they were even mildly comprehensible, some of the best Computer RPG games came from the mid to late 1990’s when the technological constraints allowed developers and artists to get into a 2d groove before everything had to be 3D with explosions to sell to the public.  Two companies (that I know of) are still pushing these types of games out and while I’ve just touched on the demos of each, I found them far better than the “how could I have lost interest if it’s supposed to be so awesome” Dragon Age.

The first company is Basilisk Games, creators of the oddly named Eschalon and Eschalon 2 and who’s mission statement is: Our mission is to produce compelling old-school computer role-playing games for gamers who still rememberwhat great computer RPGs used to be about…

The second is Spiderweb Software, creators of both the Avernum and Geneforge series.  Being founded in 1994– this is a company that simply never stopped making the 2D cRPGs.

Since my single reader of this blog has a bit more time than I do for gaming, get going and get me a review to post!

AT-43 2nd Edition announced

Looks like around Xmas we’ll be looking down the barrel of an AT-Gauss gun at the next addition of AT-43, Rackham’s excellent futuristic miniatures game that has had a really rocky road so far what with the deluge of cheap miniatures on the market and a hap-hazard release schedule typical of Games Workshop back in their glory days.  Don’t have a link but I’m sure glad I didn’t spend a lot on the rule books/faction books as I assume all of those will get updates we get to pay for.

Finally a D&D board game

4th Edition D&D is really a board game. It has a lot more in common with Descent, Warhammer Quest, Heroquest and the like than say, Paranoia or Vampire the Masquerade.  That said, 4th edition is quite a bit closer to the original D&D games from back in the day: i.e.: extremely combat with miniatures focused.    With the release of 4th edition, I was shocked that the ‘starter’ set was a few books and some chits and dice in a box rather than a massive box filled with miniatures (prepaints or not) and lots of hard cardboard dungeon tiles a la the British Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Board game (only available in England).  That starter set would have been cooking with swamp gas.

Well now Wizards is finally getting on the warhorse and is planning to release Castle Ravenloft D&D Board Game and guess what it looks like? Descent!

ravenloft STUFF
Look at all the shit you get in the box!


Distant Worlds! (?)

To begin, let it be known throughout the lands that I’m extremely skeptical of any Space Strategy games these days.*

Matrix Games has recently put out two space strategy games, Distant Worlds by Code Force and Armada 2526.  Distant Worlds is another go at the RTS/4X genre muddle and has most piqued my interest since it’s release in March. Yet, not enough to actually buy it.  It has ship design, a MASSIVE galactic map and pretty sweet graphics for it’s suite of earth animal-influenced  alien races.   Here are a couple videos that may pique your interest as well– and if it’s enough to actually buy it… please let us know.

Moving your fleet around and fighting

Exploration (with a shot of the massive galactic map)

*After Master of Orion 3’s cascade of space piss into my open mouth a few years back, I  lost hope in the genre as, almost by design, the games kept getting worse and worse from the high point of Master of Orion in 1993, Ascendancy in 1995 and Emperor of the Fading Suns in 1996.  Since the heyday, we’ve had the mediocrity of Sword of the Stars, a mess of what are really RTS games that, while OK for RTS games, fail to really hit the mark with the 4X turnbased crowd (Homeworld, Hegemony and Sins of Solar Empire) as well as the excellent but multiplayer-only Ultracorps.

What’s more, the game series that is considered the current king of Turn Based 4x Space strategy games: Galactic Civilization is such an incredible rip-off of Civilization 3/4 that I consider it simply a graphics swap rather than a new game.  The galaxy in Galactic Civilizations, like Civ 4, is just a big flat map with planets (cities) that you move your units on.   Sometimes in Galactic Civilization there are asteroid fields (forests) that slow down your movement.  What’s worse it’s not a ‘globe’ like Civ so managing a big empire, multiple fronts on a big flat map is even more tedious than Civ. That said, please note that it is with a mountainous level of distrust that I even mention any current 4X space games on this blog in light of the simple question: are they better than the original Master of Orion? If not– why would anyone bother? Better graphics? who cares.  Better interface? Really? Is that even possible? Seriously: you can have the best 4X game, plus it’s almost good sequel, for 6$.  Keep that in mind with this and any subsequent posts on this subject.

Starcraft 2 beta action

I was late for work Thursday after a 6 hour download of the beta and patches and a SINGLE game with the Protoss that went late into the night.  Having played it before almost 3 years ago at Gencon, playing the beta is nothing altogether new– which is going to be a theme as I go forward in the next month or so babbling about the kings of RTS’s new title that is so very improved and so very much the same.

I’ve gotten in a single 1 on 1 game against a total n00b.   One thing to mention straight off if you are on the fence about liking it considering that it feels at first blush very much like an upgrade is the fact that it looks incredible. The level of detail to the maps is just ridiculous, and the units look great.  As much as the multiplayer is the real draw of the game, I’m really looking forward to the single player.

Being crushed by my enemies…

Being driven before them…

and letting them hear the lamentation of my women!

That’s the story of my first campaign run through Mount and Blade : Warbands.  Being a seasoned veteran of the old version of the game I feel I was slightly overconfident and went into some siege battles that decimated my miniscule warband– then I wandered into three armies of Swadians who had their way with the rest– what’s more, while running away (all alone) I ran into another full army who attacked and had their way with my lonesome self.  I took down 15 or so before, yet again, being captured, probably raped and pillaged.  Though you don’t lose all your good/goods/weapons,  there is a random roll and I lost my elite tempered sabre, about 2K worth of flax, and, of course, all of my followers are locked up in some castle jail somewhere.  A desolate place to be in the game– but who can stop playing even after constant and massive set backs?  That’s the beauty of the game: you and your fellow ‘lords’ are effectively immortal– you just keep going.  Raise another army, train them, go on some trading runs and then you’re back in the field after an hour or so destroying the Swadian masses.

For those that don’t have it yet, if you have the old game and just want to play the single player campaign: wait until you can get Warbands for cheap.  It’s really just an incremental update rather than a new version of the game for single player, which I am fine with as it’s a fantastic indy game.  Sure you can get married and learn some poems (!?) but that’s really not enough to warrant a purchase unless you are dying to get some multi player in.  However, if you have been waiting for multiplayer all these years– immediately go out and spend the cash as that’s where this version shines.

Gaming Hoopla

Saturday was spent sitting at various tables in a giant room with a giant stone fireplace placing pieces of plastic, wood and cardboard on top of other, usually larger, pieces of cardboard.  This was Gaming Hoopla.  As a pure gaming convention, I would rate it a definite 1 on the binary scale.  No mucking around with lines to see celebrities, no big announcements, no wasting time at vendors digging through boxes of old mouldy stuff looking for deals (there was only one selling about 50 games at most): it was all about sitting down and playing games.  People were exceedingly friendly and would either just ask you to play a game or, as you were sitting down to play something, would ask to get in on the action. My only complaint was that the room (though big) smelled of MEAT the entire time and giant wafts of MEAT-AIR would blast into the gaming area from the kitchen.

Games I got in on:
Agricola
Rush N Crush
Dungeon Quest
Arcanum
El Grande

My favorite was probably Rush N Crush. It just really captured the feel and intensity of a race with guns (and I won by wrecking my buddy’s car right at the finish line).  Though it may not be a play all the time game, I think I may pick it up.  All in all, a great little CON in the town where it all started and a good time.

Fantasy Flight DUNGEONQUEST!

Yeah? Oh yeah! Fantasy Flight must be hitting their numbers re-releasing the holy grails from Games Workshop’s golden age because we have yet another awesome edition to the roster:  DungeonQuest. This and Mummy’s Tomb I never got my grubby teenage hands on so I am fired fired fired up about the re-release (and was wondering why the original version’s price kept dropping on ebay the last few months). Great news and more info.